tv 60 Minutes CBS January 31, 2016 6:00pm-7:00pm CST
>> so we have to scrub it at the beginning, if we can, or scrub it at the intermediary location that i mentioned. >> there is a clear pitch consistently presented in eveve one of theseapes of what amounts to an incredible number of red flags that scream corruption. >> kroft: dirty money? >> dirty money. >> alfonsi: petermann glacier in greenland is one of the largest glaciers in the arctic circle and one that's expepeenced dramatic melting. although it is a harsh and dangerous environment, it has drawn some of the world's leading climate scientists to study its it's sheath and look at its effects on the ocean. we watched as they attempted a first-ever look at what's happening 300 feet below t t ice. >> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm lesley stahl.
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hi. >> kroft: if you like crime dramas and movies with international intrigue, then you probably have a basic understanding of money laundering. it's howowictators, drug dealers, corrupt politicians, and other crooks avoid getting caught by transforming their ill-gotten gains into assets that appear to be legitimate. they do it by moving the dirty money through a maze of dummy corporations and offshore bank accounts that conceal their
funds.s. and most of it would never happen without the help-- witting or unwitting-- of lawyers, accountants and incorporators, the people who actually create these anonymous shell companies and help move the money. in fact, the u.s. has become one of the most popular places in the world to do it. tonight, with the e lp of hidden camera footage, we're going to show you how easy it seems to have become to conceal questionable funds from law enforcement and the public. you need look no further for evidence than the changing skyline of new york city, where much of the priciest residential real estate is being snapped up not by individuals but by anonymous shell companies withth secret owners. there's nothing illegal about it as long as the money's legitimate, but there's no way to tell if you don't know who the real buyers are. it is one of the reasons global witness, a london-based non-
international corruption, came to new york city 19 months ago. it wanted to see how helpful u.s. lawyers would be in concealing questionable funds. this hidden camera footage was shot in law firms across manhattan without the lawyers' knowledge by the man in the gray coat with the german accent. >> lawrence gabe: so it's ralph? >> ralph kayser: ralph kayser. >> kroft: "ralph kayser" is not his real name. he's an investigator for global witness posing here as the representative of a government official from a poor west african country who wants to move millions of d dlars in suspicicus funds into the ununed states, and he needs the lawyers' hp. >> ross: are you gonna tell me what country and what minister this is? >> kayser: i can't tell you. it's one of those mineral rich countries in west africa. there are not so many. >> kroft: attorney gerald ross and the other lawyers were told secrecy was essential, because the e rican minister had amassed his fortune collecting special payments from foreign companies
mineral rights. >> kayser: so companies are eager to get hold of rare earth or other minerals. and so they pay some special money for it. i wouldn't name it bribe. i would say "f"filitation money." >> kroft: kayser said it was all legal. he told attorney james silnat and the other lawyers that the minister was shopping for a townhouse, a jet and a yacht, but his name must not be connected to the purchases. >> kayser: if his name now would appear in connection with buying some real estate here and other items, it would look, at least, very, very embarrassing. >> james silkenat: right. because his... presumably his salary in, wherever it is, would not cover the kinds of acquisitions we're talking about. >> kayser: oh, for sure. it's the salary of a teacher here. and so how can we make surthat he ibeing able to-to buy property here and to live a nice
>> silkenat: right. any guesses as to how much money we're talking about for the brownstone and the other items? >> kayser: i mean, the brownstone, talk about $10 million. for second-hand gulfstream, i could imagine $10, $20 million. a yacht would be at least $200, $300 million. >> kroft: the fictitious story of the african minister was cooked up in global witness' london office, based on an actual money laundering case. the investigator phoned 50 new york law firms with experience in private asset protection and managed to get face-to-face meetings with 16 different lawyers in 13 firms. >> kayser: i'm very frank. it's, i would say, "gray money." i think somebody told me you name it "black money." >> kroft: global w wness says the pitch was intentionally designed to raise red flags and to give the lawyers good reason to suspect that the minister's millions came from official corruption, and they all did. >> kayser: it's only that the money is a bit, let's say... >> gabe: tainted.
>> gabe: okay, that's a nice word. okay. >> kayser: or, you gave another exexession? koplik: honest graft. kayser: honest graft! okay, fine. so i have to be frank. it's honest graft. how would you name it? >> ross: some people call it bribes. >> kayser: nah, i wouldn't name it bribe... >> ross: never. right, no, course not. >> kayser: because it's a business deal. so, okay, bribe... is actually bribe. >> charmian gooch: you know, the story of the fictititis african minister would probably have raised eyebrows for the average person on the street. >> kroft: charmian gooch is the co-founder of global witness, a public advocacy group that exposes corruption in the developing world. previous undercover investigations exposed the global trade in african blood diamonds. this investigation, gooch says,, exposes serious flaws in the u.s. legal system that have made it a hub for international money laundering. >> gooch: what the lawyers laid out for us in some detail was all the different possibilities and ways in which it could be done. >> kroft: what you're saying is if you want to get dirty money into the united states, it's not
>> gooch: what i'm sayininis thereris an open door and it's pretty shocking and pretty concerning, because that money could be coming from anywhere. >> kroft: of the 16 lawyers that global witness recorded in these preliminary meetings, only attorney jeffrey herrmann flatly declined to participate and showed ralph kayser the door. >> herrmann: i have some real questions ababt that. >> kayser: yes? >> herrmann: under the foreign corrupt practices act. >> kayser: right. >> herrmann: and under the foreign corrupt practices act, bribing foreign officials is illegal. >> kayser: by americans. >> herrmann: by americans. >> kayser: but americans are not involved. so it's money from other nation- - nationals, not american entities, not american nationals... >> herrmann: it's not for me. >> kayser: pardon me? >> herrmann: it's not for me. >> kroft: aside from that one
firms, including 15 out of the 16 lawyers, not only heard ralph kayser out, they suggested ways that the suspicious funds could be moved into the u.s. without compromising the minister's identity. attorney james silkenat was selected by global witness because at the time, he was president of the american bar association. yet he and his colleague, hugh finnegan, provided what former prosecutors told us was a roadmap of how to conceal the source of the funds using layers of anonymous, interconnected shell companies in multiple jurisdictions. >> finnegan: presumably, we would set up a little bit of a series of ownersrso try and, again, protect privacy as much as anything else. >> kayser: yeah. >> silkenat: so company a is owned by company b, which owned jointly by company c and d, and your party owns all of or the majority of the shares of c and d. >> kayser: so we, we create several companies? >> finnegan: yes. >> k kser: all in new yorkrkr different states? >> finnegan: well, like i said,
quickly, you'd go offshore. >> kroft: attorney john jankoff and his partner, lawrence gabe, recommended variations of the same strategy. >> jankoff: a lot of people in africa use the isle of man. some of them use liechtenstein... >> gabe: so he wouldldust take his millions of dollars, put it in isle of man... >> jankoff: he can put it into a swiss bank account. the swiss will have it. and... and then... >> gabe: and then he comes to us. >> jankoff: and then he comes to us and says, "i want to buy a townhouse." >> kroft: attorney marc koplik also suggested that the mimister could d ve his money out of west africa to europe, where it could be "scrubbed" in an anonymous corporate entity that his firm would be happy to set up. >> koplik: the money as it sits now, is it in his name? >> kayser: it's in different names. >> koplik: okay. so it will come as those different names? >> kayser: i iluding his name, yes? >> koplik: so we have to scrub it at the beginning, if we can, or scrub it at the intermediary
>> kayser: so how to do this, intermediary? that means a bank in? >> koplik: we'll say luxembourg. >> kayser: luxembourg. >> koplik: we will set up an appropriate e tity call it clientoverseas.com or whatever, and then that will send money into the united states. >> kroft: if that was a banker talking instead of a lawyer, he could be in serious trouble. that's because under u.s. law, bankers are required to report suspicious financial activity to the authorities. lawyers are under no such legal obligation. >> gooch: banks in america are required to know their customer or required to be very cognizant of risk and to report on it if there... if there is an issue there around money laundering. and yet, absolutely bizarrely, american lawyers aren't. this is clearly an issue. and i think our investigation has shown the potential for what could happen because of that lack of regulation. >> kroft: global witness says that anomaly is just one of the flaws in the u.s. legal system
laundering. >> and we're going to call it here, "anonymous, inc." >> kroft: another is the ease in which anonymous shell companies can be set up here to conceal ownership of money and assets. last year two million new corporations were set up in the united states, many with no offices, products or employees... just an address and perhaps a bank account. >> gooch: in many states across america, you need less identification to set up and than you do to get a library card. >> kroft: gooch says anonymous shell companies are like getaway cars for crooks, designed to put them as far way as possible from the scene of their crime. according to a world bank study, the u.s. was the favorite place for corrupt officials to set up anonymous shell companies. >> gooch: there was a verergood academic study and america came up as the easiest place to set up an anonymous company, after kenya, out of 180 countries. >> kroft: after kenya? >> gooch: after kenya. >> kroft: so did that study have
decision to go ahead and do these undercover investigations? >> gooch: it inspired us. i mean, we almost thought, "it cacat be this bad, can i i" and, unfortunately, what wee found is it is. >> kroft: all of the attorneys expressed some concerns, like this one from gerald ross. >> ross: i've got to be very careful myself. i don't want to do something if it looks like i'm laundering money. and that would cost me my license and-and i... just don't do that. >> kroft: but later, he susuested that the queststnable money could be wired directly into his client escrow account, bypassing scrutiny from the banks. >> ross: when i get money from my other clients, it always comes here with some strange name on it. i don't even ask. >> kayser: and nobody ask? >> ross: it doesn't come from minister joe jones. it comes from the xyz account. >> kroft: john jankoff said they would need to get a legal opinion that the money was clean, then suggested that the minister use front men to open up overseas bank accounts.
name, then he needs what is known as a "straw man." practically spspking if the money leaves the country his name should not be attached to the wire. it should be other people's names. >> poncy: and we know this happens. we know this happens. this is how money laundering occurs all over the world. but that does not mitigate the power of seeing it up close. >> kroft: we shohod the tapes to chip poncy, a former top official at the treasury department whose job was to stop financial crime, terrorist financing and money laundering. he says there's nothing wrong with lawyers setting up anonymous shell companies to protect a client's privacy, but if it's done to conceal criminal activity, that's when it becomes a problem. >> poncy: there's a clear pitch consistently presented in every one of these tapes of what amounts to an incredible number of red flags that scream corruption. >> kroft: dirty money? >> poncy: dirty money. >> kroft: bad actors?
they have a need. they've got to move their money from a point where they've received corrupt proceeds in this case to a point where ty can enjoy those proceeds. and to get 'em from... to get this money from point a to point b, they need help in laundering it, effectively. >> kroft: poncy says he was dismayed with the ease and the comfort with which attorneys seemed to be willing to turn a blind eye and discuss a matter that was likely to be illegal. >> poncy: what's essential to recognize is that this is after it's been revealed that the potential client is representing an african minister with hundreds of millions of dollars of funds received through, effectively, bribes. >> kroft: this is more than legal advice? >> poncy: this is legal advice on how to evade controls, or at a minimum, very clear global standards on financial transparency to allow our countries to go after proceeds of crime. >> kroft: attorney marc koplik told the global witness investigator that he preferred using money managers and investment firms to move funds.
than using banks. >> koplik: and i would suggest three or four to you. some are bigger. some are smaller. the smaller ones are often more flexible and understanding and less concerned about their reputation. because thth fly, to a greater extent, below the radar screen. >> kroft: sometimes the advice took the form of suggesting banks and countries that might be less vigilant about money laundering. >> silkenat: we would have to look into how far specific banks looked into, you know, the, you know, the know your customer laws and how fararhey would dig. >> finnegan: in manynyays, you'd probably be better off with a smaller bank because... >> kayser: that would be a possibility. >> finnegan: because the bigger banks are much more serious about looking into that stuff. >> kayser: their reputation. >> finnegan: right.
>> silkenat: and there may be other banking systems that are less rigorous on this than the u.s. would be. >> kayser: what would it be? >> silkenat: the usual banking havens, i think, would be ones you would want to consider. we could provide you with a list of countries where the banking systems require less detail on ownership or source of funds. >> kroft: while james silkenat, the former president of the american bar association, and his partner, hugh finnegan, listened to the pitch and suggested ways in which they might be able to help, they were also the most suspicious of ralph kayser and hisisfrican ministererbeginning just five minutes into the meeting. >> silkenat: we need to talk about the risks or just concerns about where he got the money and how to explain that. >> kayser: that's it. >> silkenat: there is... there are issues there.
woululbe involved here wououn't be part of facilitating payments, but if that's really where the money came from and if there were, you know, "crimes" committed someplace else, that- that starts to be an issue. kroft: they were alal the most cautious about moving forwd. towards the end of the meeting, hugh finnegan, who is off camera here, said the firm would feel obligated to report anything it believed to be illegal. >> finnegan: bearing in mind of what you said, no american law was violated, no local law was violated, but, you know, if we're aware that a crime is being committed, we e ve an obligation to report that. >> kroft: mr. silkenat says, "we need to talk about the risks or just concerns about where he got the money and how to explain that." >> poncy: that, that, and that's, that's a welcome... >> kroft: he's already been told how, where the money came from and how he got the money. >> poncy: correct. so it-it's a healthy recognition
>> kroft: if you could ask him anything about this meeting, what would it be? >> poncy: what's going through your head? why are you continuing this conversation? why not just say no? is the business that important? >> kroft: neither silkenat nor finnegan would agree to an on- camera interview. but they sent us a statement saying they only discussed generic information that could be found on the internet and that their conduct was "entirely appropriate." "had the camera followed us after the meeting," they wrote, "it would have shown us agreeing that kayser was disreputable and that we would not deal with him again." none of the other lawyers agreed to give us an on camera interview either. when we come back, we'll take a look at the legal and ethical implications of what you've just seen. >> cbs money watch update brought to you by one of the world's leading pharmaceutical
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>> kroft: when non-profit organization called global witness came to new york 19 months ago, it secretly recorded hidden camera interviews with 16 manhattan lawyers. its investigator was posing as the representative of an african official trying to move millions of dollars of suspicious funds. global witness, which specializes in exposing
to see how much help the lawyers would provide in setting up anonymous shell companies and offshore bank accounts to move the suspicious funds into the u.s., and at the same time, protect the identity of the fictitious african official. >> silkenat: good to see you. >> kayser: good to see you. >> kroft: the undercover investigator, who called himself ralph kaysertold the lawyers that the minister had used his official position to collect tens of millions of dollars in special payments from foreign companies to help them obtain valuable mineral rights. he wanted to move the money to the united states to buy a house, a jet, and a yacht. >> kayser: so therefore, he wants to bring in the money into the u.s. so, starting with the brownstone and then, probably, buying a gulfstream jet... he wants to commission the building of a yacht, and buy, probably, more property. >> kroft: the story was intentionanay devised to raise red flags and lead the lawyers to believe that the minister's money was dirty. during the meetings, only one of
herrmann, told him no. >> herrmann: this ain't for me. my standards are higher. >> kroft: the rest expressed varying degrees of interest, with most of them offering advice on how it could be done. >> koplik: we do everything, soup to nuts. so, there's no limitation. we don't say, "oh, we don't do windows, or we don't deal with the financial money managers," or whatever. no. we orchestrate and organize the entire thing. we're happy to take that responsibility. >> kroft: what's important to point out-- and it cannot be overstated-- is that none of the lawyers we've shown you broke any laws, in part because the african minister didn't really exist. there were no hundreds of millions of dollars, and global witness' charmian gooch said no so this is sort of a morality test? >> gooch: it wasn't. it was a... it was a test on the system. >> kroft: you know, people could make the argument, "look, all
listen to this person that came into their office. they didn't make a deal, they didn't sign up. they said, 'we need to do some more research.'" >> gooch: and you know what? they'd be absolutely right to y that, but they'd need to say something else, , o, which is at those lawyers laid out, in often considerable detail, a myriad of different ways to bring money into america. >> kroft: none of the lawyers agreed to take on the african minister as a client, nor were they asked to. it was a preliminary meeting that ended with most of the attorneys expressing interest in continuing the diaiague, and some enthusiastic about landing the business. >> silkenat: i'm happy to chat whenever it's possible to move the ball forward on this. >> kayser: fantastic, great. >> silkenat: good. >> kayser: thank you so much. >> silkenat: thanks for coming in. >> kroft: marc koplik and albert grant foresaw no problem as long as the money was clean, and gave no indication that t ty planned to do any checking themselves. they wenenso far as to discuss legal feeses >> koplik: legal fs will be substantial, albert. correct me i'm wrong-- $50,000
>> kroft: koplik also suggested conducting a test in which a portion of the suspicious funds would be sent into the united states. >> koplik: a million dollars. >> kayser: a million dollars, so, as a test? >> albert grant: yeah. >> kayayr: because i said, probably you wouldldtart with around, $50 million, probably, i could imagine? >> koplik: i would say a million dollars. >> kayser: a million dollars. >> koplik: if anything goes wrong, it'll be inful, but it won't be life threatening. >> kayser: right. exactly. >> kroft: john jankoff and his partner, lawrence gabe, who is off camera here, also seemed willing to go forward. >> jankoff: we would orchestrate it. one legal fee to cover erything. >> kroft: however, gabe did express some concerns about the transactions. >> kayser: who can set up this structure? could you do it? >> jankoff: yeah, your brother- in-law does it all the time. >> gabe: well, okay. but i-i-i don't think he does it with money that may be questionable. and that we have to find out about. >> kroft: at the end of that meeting, they looked forward to the next conversation on the telephone, not on email. >> gabe: okay, give me a phone number where we can reach you? >> kayser: ah...
putting this in emails. >> kayser: sending an email with just an outline would be fine, as well, so it's... >> jankoff: i don't like emails. >> kayser: you don't like emails? >> gabe: that's how you catch people. >> kroft: the hidden camera tapes raise all sorts of ethical questions not just about the behavior of the lawyers, but about the methods used by global witness in making them. we showed the footage to bill simon, a law professor at columbia university, who is one of the country's top legal ethicists. >> bill simon: i think it draws attention to the fact that lawyers may be playing an important role in money laundering that requires more scrutiny. >> kroft: have you ever seen anything like this before? >> simon: no. >> kroft: never? >> simon: never. >> kroft: what's your overall impression of it? >> simon: any lawyer's going to be uncomfortable about the fact that this was a sting in which someone lied his way into a lawyer's office and secretly recorded statements a lawyer was... thought he was making to a client. that's kind of unprecedented and it's kind of inconsistent with the bar's norms about confidentiality. so i'm a little uneasy about
on the other hand, i think that the tapes expose conduct of great public consequence. >> kroft: you think it's valuable that the public sees it? >> simon: yeah. i think it's very valuable. confidentiality is for the benefit of the client, not the lawyer. but the lawyers benefit from it, because conduct that goes on under the protection of confidentiality is never scrutinized by the public. and wyers are never accountable for it. so the sting actually brings some accountability to conduct that ought to be accountntle. >> kroft: in its own report, global witness includes an opinion from two legal ethicists, including bill simon of columbia. it says that if attorneys marc koplik, john jankoff, and gerald ross had been responding to a real request, their conduct would "not comply with the professional responsibilities of lawyers." it said d e attorneys displayeye "a cynical and evasive attitudud toward law." the ethicists also noted that the rules are vague, and "we do not expect that all lawyers will
simon put then-a.b.a. president james silkenat and his partner, hugh finnegan, in a different category, even though they provided advice on how to move questionable funds into the e s. what makes silkenat different from the other lawyers? >> simon: silkenat was quite clear that he would not assist illegal conduct. and he even indicated at one point that he would report the client if he found the client engaged in illegal conduct. and then, also, silkenat was fairly clear that he would neeee more information before he agreed to represent the client. >> kroft: on the other hand, he clearly seems interested in this. >> simon: he clearly seems interested and even a little enthusiastic about it. >> kroft: anything wrong with that? >> simon: well, i find it regrettable, but i... i'm not sure as a professional responsibility authority, i could d y it was inconsistent with his duties under thrules. >> kroft: simon says the only lawyer who truly fulfilled the ideals of the legal profession was jeffrey herrmann, who listened to the pitch, decided
activity, and ended the meeting. >> herrmann: this ain't for me. my standards are higher. i'm not interested. >> kayser: do you... do yoyoknow anybody who would be able to do so? >> herrmann: i don't think so, and i wouldn't recommend them either anyway. >> kayser: yeah, yeah. >> herrmann: because those persons would be insulted. >> kroft: charmian gooch says the point of global witness' hidden camera investigation was not to target or entrap lawyers for bad behavior. the e oblem, she says, arereax laws and toothless regulations that make it ridiculously easy for criminals to launder $300 billion a year in the united states. >> gooch: this is real public interest information. how are you going to get that out to them if you can't show them what's happening behind closed doors? >> kroft: you couldn't have done this any other way? >> gooch: i think unless the public and policy makers can really see for themselves what gets said across the desk, across the table in a meeting like this, it's kind of hard to really believe and take on
>> kroft: gooch says there's a simple solution, but it's been politically impossible to achieve in the united states. just ask carl levin, the longtime chairman of the senate's permanent subcommittee on investigation. until he retired last year, he spent years trying to pass a law that would require the states to collect one additional piece of information from people forming corporations. >> carl levin: one line-- who's the real owner. not who's the agent forming it. not who's the lawyer representing the owner. who is the beneficial owner, the real owner? and it's-it's not at all complicated. >> kroft: but the bill has never made it out of committee, in part because of strong opposition from the american bar association. >> kroft: what's the american bar association's objection to this? >> levin: the lawyers are helping form corporations, and they're afraid, i guess, that if you put a damper on the formation of corporations, that you're putting some damper on legal business. >> kroft: the irony is that the
department and the u.s. treasury have been among the world's strongest proponents for cracking down on money laundering. yet the u.s. is one of the easiest places in the world to set up the anonymous companies that facilitate it. >> gooch: it's a heck of a paradox, isn't it? and, you know, i think that the american bar association needs to get behind the need for regulation, in the way that european lawyers have had to do exactly the same. and i think that you know, it... it's... i think the american government needs to answer that question. >> kroft: global witness may have inadvertently gotten a sassy answer to that question from attorney marc koplik in its hidden camera video. koplik explained to the representative of the phony african minister why he never worried about government subpoenas. koplik: they don't send the lawyers to jail, because we run the country. >> kayser: do you run the country? >> koplik: still do. >> kayser: i love it. >> koplik: still do. >> grant: i should say some lawyers run the country. >> kayser: so, you are... you are some of them? two of them?
of a privileged, privilege class in this country. >> kayser: so, howowwhat does it mean you run the country? it means you? >> koplik: we make the laws, and when we do so, we make them in a way that is advantageous to the lawyers. >> this is a cbs spopos update brought to you by the lincoln motor cocoany. three top-teneams were in action today in college basketball. number three iowa took care of northwestern at home. number six villanova got a road win against st. johns. and number eight maryland held off ohio state. in the nba, the los angeles clippers beat the chicago bulls 120-93 behind 26 points and 26 minutes off ththbench from jamall crawford. for more sports news and information go, to cbssports.com.
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experienced dramatic melting. it is a harsh and dangerous environment, and it has drawn some of the world's leading climate scientists, who are only able to work there a
little over a month a year. we wanted to see how that work is proceeding, how they are able to move equipment and people in such a hostile place, and what they've discovered so far, so we went to the top of the world to find out. our journey took us 700 miles above the arctic circle to the u.s.' thule air force base in northern greenland, built at the start of the cold war to watch for soviet missiles. it is an alien ldscape, home to curious arctic hares and packs of pre-historic looking muskoxs. from there, we flew even further. the destination-- petermann glacier. it's on the northwest coast of
miles south of the north pole. to get there in a helicopter took us four hours over a rarely seen landscape that is both severe and serene. the last town we'd see was qaanaaq, with 700 residents and more huskies than people. locked in by ice nine months of the year, villagers have always hunted seal and narwhal to survive. greenland is three times the size of texas, and 80% of it is covered in ice, but it now loses more ice than it gains in snowfall every year. we saw evidence of the imbalance everywhere-- blue gashes across the ice, rivers of rushing melt water, and the occasional thunderous crack of icebergs
we still had 300 miles to go, and stopped twice to refuel along the way. these barrels were left behind for us by the scientists who made the trip to petermann glacier three weeks earlier. this is the ultimate self- service gas station in the middle of nowhere. this will keep us going for how much longer? >> malik jensen: yeah, we can fly two and a half hours. >> alfonsi: our pilots, native greenlanders, kept a riflele nearby at t ch stop to protect us from polar bears. have you seen polar bears out here? >> jensen: yeah, a lot. so now, it's ready, always safe. >> alfonsi: finally, we arrived at petermann glacier. >> ah, there's the camp. >> alfonsi: and spotted the ice camp below. >> alan mix: great to see you. >> alfonsi: so who dididou upset to get put out here? >> keith nicholls: i know-- the gods, the gods. >> alfonsi: keith nicholls is an expert in drilling in remote places.
would be really hard to beat. it feels like you're on another planet. >> nicholls: take a walk around here and you can be expecting scotty to beam you up. it is extraordinary. >> alfonsi: nicholls and a team of scientists were drawn to this remote sliver of greenland, in part, by these satellite images. in 2010, a chunk of ice four times the size of manhattan broke off. then, two years later, another large chunk came down. the glacier has receded by 20 miles in five years. nicholls and his team are trying to drill beneath it. this is a lot of work in difficult conditions. what do you hope to learn? >> nicholls: what we're trying to learn is how the oceans are interacting with the ice, how theyre melting it, trying to predict how in the future that melting might change. >> alfonsi: to drill through the ice, they heated melt water from the glacier to make a hot-water
foot thick ice. there has to be serious challenges to running equipment like this in this kind of weather. >> nicholls: the biggest challenge is that we've got water and it's very cold. so, if we have water freezing in hoses, that can be devastating for the project. >> alfonsi: this is the moment the e ring machine struck the bottom of the e afloor. a half-mile beneath the ice, they made history. it was the first time anyone has ever collected sediment from beneath the ice shelf in greenland. >> nicholls: the ocean beneath the ice shelves is probably the least accessible part of the world's s ean. and just getting access to that is a triumph, frankly, as far as we're concerned. >> alfonsi: the ice shelf extends out from the glacier and floats on the ocean. they believe it acts like a dam, holding back the ice from sliding into the sea. if it goes away, sea levels go up. is therere sense of urgency in
>> nicholls: sea level rise is the big... the big question that we're trying to get at. and petermann glacier, this experiment here, gives us an opportunity to get at those processes and try to understand the basic physics as to how that can happen. >> alfonon: our visit to the i i camp was cut short. our pilots warned us something called "ice fog" was moving in and could strand us here for days. we high-tailed it back to the helicopter, heading to another outpost of the expedition-- what the scientists call "boulder camp," set up on the edge of petermann glacier. shaun marcott and a team of geologists have been here for weeks, gathering samples from rocks. >> shaun marcott: so, this was probably deposited when the ice was maybe a few hundred to a few thousand feet thicker, and when it was deposited, you're probably talking about maybe 500, 600 feet of ice above us. >> alfonsi: above where we are right now? >> marcott: above where we are now. peterman would've been much
dropping these rocks all over the surface. >> alfonsi: to the person at home who's looking at you guys just chipping away at rocks and going, "why should i care about this?" >> marcott: we know that if you warm the planet up, glaciers respond, they melt. the question is, at what rate? how fast is that going to happen, and where is it going to happen, and where are the most vulnerable spots in this ice sheet? to understand all of that, you have to understand how the ice sheet... what controls an ice sheet. we need to understand this glacier, so that we can provide a better prediction for the larger ice sheet. that matatrs to us because of sea level. if these glaciers can respond dynamically, then we should all be concerned, because that can create dynamic changes in sea level and flood infrastructure. and we need to know that for planning for the future. >> alfonsi: we camped out next to the scientists. with 24 hours s light, we slept in these tents under the midnight sunun in the morning, we were shuttled out to meet the "oden," a swedish ice breaker making its
the "oden" supports the scientists on land and acts as a floating laboratory. named after a norse god who relentlessly soughwisdom, it's home to more than 50 climate scientists from around the world with similar convictions. their work is funded mostly by the swedish government and the u.s.'s national science foundation. larry mayeyeis one of the ologists on the "oden". he's using sonar ti map the ocean floor, creating the first detailed maps that show how petermann glacier slid into the sea. you can see it, like skid marks of a car at an accident scene. larry mayer: "oh yeah - the ice went here and the e e went there." and we can see it. "oh and it stopped here." >> alfonsi: how much of the world's oceans have been mapped with this kind of detail? larry mayer: oh, probably-- on the order of 6% to 7%. >> alfonsi: six-- larry mayer: very, very little. yeah. you can only make the trip to
enough to allow passage. >> alan mix: you can see those blocks of ice drifting by. expedition leader alan mix is running the ships coring operation, trying to grab sediment from the seafloor. >> alan mix: so actually, the coring site right now is under that block of ice and we just can't get there. so we're trying to drift with the ice and just sort of sneak up on it gently. it's hard to sneak up on anything in an ice breaker. the oden doesn't so much as sail as it does smash the ice like a 13,000 ton hamamr. once in position they throw something called a piston corer, like a dart, at the bottom of the ocean. >> oh, that doesn't sound good. go to the next one but we'll hit it with the gravity core. >> alfonsi: a core sample like
process of investigating those cores begins. what's your best guess? >> anne jennings: so the base of this core probably is no more anne jennings is with the institute e arctic and alpine research. she says each core holds clues about petermann glacier's past. >>anne jennngs: well we didn't really expect to find things living under the ice shelf but we have. >> alfonsi: what have you found? >> anne jennings: this one we've found is called cibicidioides wuellferfstorfi. it has a big name for a little bug. >> alfonsi: easy for you to say! it looks like a little seashell. >> anne jennings: and it is a sea shell but it is a single celled animal. >> alfonsi: that single celled animal, like all living creatures, is made out of carbon, allowing scientists to determine when it lived. which tells you what? >> anne jennings: the age of the sediments. so we can take them the depth scale here and convert it to age. and then we can say, "when did the ice retreat? how quickly did it retreat?
coming out? >> alfonsi: you can get all that from what looks like mud? >> anne jennings: yes. >> alfonsi: after a week in greenland, we headed home but the scientists kept working, taking advantage of the final days of the short arctic summer. the 66 core samples they collected during their month at sea will be studied by scientists around the world for decades. >> peter demenocal: this is the largest core depository in the world. >> alfonsi: peter demenocal is a paleo climatologist at columbia university. he says the cores collected in greenland are like a black box of the earth's inner workings. this one he collected just south of greenland. >> peter demenocal: so this is today's climate and we've had about 10,000 years of relatively warm climate. and then we go ten thousand years in the past - boom, there's the last ice age. this is when long island was formed and cape cod was formed. go on, and you can just find it's filled with these rocks,
detritus, until this period when - whoa, there's another warm phase. and then another cold phase, and then another warm phase. a short cold phase, a longer warm phase and then - boom, another ice age. and so you've had cold, warm, cold, warm, cold, warm, today. >> alfonsi: how do we know that the warming we're seeing now, how do we not know it's part of this warm, cold, warm, cold? >> peter demenocal: that's a great question. these transitions are gradual. and kind of almost like a tide wave or something. and this transition, when you get to today, goes boom. suddenly very warm. >> alfonsi: demenocal says the cores pulled from petermann glacier will fill in a crucial piece of the climate change puzzle. how impressive was it that they got to petermann glacier? >> peter demenocal: it's impressive. what's more impressive is that we haven't been there every year and that we're not going-- not doing this every year. we should be doing this-- we should be monitoring this whole system with much greater focus than we are now.
seen the changes in greenland? >> peter demenocal: the changes that are happening right now as a result of human activities are remarkable. and they're happening incredibly fast and they're-- it's not only happening fast but it's accelerating. and it's important to really get our mind around what we're saying there. we're not just saying that climate in the arctic is changing. it's changing at an accelerating rate. so basically it means it's starting to melt but it's melting at a faster and faster clip. so anyone who knows what it's like to fall off a cliff, that's what it's doing. >> for our crews photos of the alien landscape plus for more on walter cronkite goes to greenland -- >> the very top of the world. >> -- go to 60minutesovertime.com
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